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Pam and Karen; soon to be available for free from NBC Direct
NBC Universal will make its TV shows available for download for free

Regular readers of DailyTech should already be well abreast of NBC Universal's recent rift with online multimedia juggernaut Apple. NBC Universal butted heads with Apple over pricing for its TV shows on iTunes – NBC Universal wanted to up prices to $4.99 per episode while Apple wanted to stick to its $1.99 model.

NBC Universal publicly aired its grievances with Apple; Apple in turn decided to prematurely boot NBC Universal programming from iTunes.

NBC Universal saved face somewhat by shuttling its programming over to Amazon’s Unbox service. Amazon was more flexible in pricing than Apple which was music to NBC Universal’s ears. With Unbox, NBC Universal has more control over episode pricing, can offer discounts to consumers who purchase an entire season of a show and offer free downloads of show pilots.

According to The New York Times, NBC Universal isn’t stopping there. The media conglomerate will offer a new online service called NBC Direct. With NBC Direct, customers will be able to download TV shows to a Windows-based PC for free immediately after they have aired. Once downloaded, the episodes expire one week after the original air date.

While the episodes are free, there is one tiny catch: commercials will be embedded into the shows and cannot be skipped over.

NBC Universal hopes to eventually pit its NBC Direct service directly against iTunes. "With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment," remarked NBC Digital Entertainment executive VP Vivi Zigler. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."

NBC Universal’s move will effectively cut out the middleman says NBC Digital Entertainment president Jeff Gaspin.

NBC Direct will begin a trial period next month and should be fully operational in November.

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Targeting commercials
By wordsworm on 9/21/2007 1:08:31 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, if I have to take a break from watching TV, I prefer using the pause button to being force fed commercials for cars (which I'll never buy), horse piss (aka Budwheezer), and car insurance. I'd much prefer seeing commercials from Asus or Gigabyte, et al for products I might actually be interested in. I don't watch mainstream movies often, but I sure like the underground scene. Finding good underground films is a real challenge. Seeing previews to them in lieu of the blockbuster duds (kind of like the kaleidescope plot machines of Orwell's 1984 if you ask me). Music ought to be advertised to me that I'm actually interested in, with links to buy and download. The chances of actual revenue being made from areas of interest that I have rather than having to watch ads for things that have no relevance to me is much greater. Will commercials become intelligent with downloadable TV? It remains to be seen.

RE: Targeting commercials
By acer905 on 9/21/2007 8:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm, this does seem to be a good idea. Simply take a system like a "gamer profile" and make your own "consumer profile" that you can somehow log into. Then, the first time you do so, you fill out a list of items that interest you, different services, products, and such. Then, when you are watching tv, and a commercial comes on, its an ad targeted toward you. With ads for things you might like, you would pay more attention, and then possibly buy more, which would make everyone happy.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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